Archive for the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Category

The Fall of the Last Emperor

Posted in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Critical Thinking, martial arts, skepticism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2011 by theskepticalsamurai

Anyone familiar with MMA should be familiar with the name Fedor Emelianenko. 

For the uninformed Emelianenko is a mixed martial arts fighter who for a period of time was essentially an unstoppable force in MMA the likes of which have not previously been seen.  Coming from virtual obscurity, Fedor quickly rose to the top the mixed martial arts world, dispatching all challengers in his way, earning the name “The Last Emperor”.  Put simply, Emelianenko was thought to be unstoppable. 

But sadly, all good things must come to an end. 

Fedor has lost his last 2 fights.  His 1st lost came via triangle choke by Fabricio Werdum, in the 1st round of their fight.  Although a devastating loss to Fedor, his camp, and his fans, it could be argued that Fedor had simply got sloppy/lazy in this grappling technique and “got caught” by a skilled practitioner.   

Many, including those within Fedor’s camp, felt that they was no need for alarm.  Fedor made a simple mistake against a skilled practitioner and “got caught”.  Surely this would not, in fact it could not happened again. 

Fast forward a few months later and Fedor suffers his second loss (in a row no less!) at the hands of Antonio “Big Foot” Silva.  Fedor not only lost, he got beaten down.  Granted there were moments when we saw glimpses of his former dominance, but reviewing the fight in its entirety, Fedor looked like a shell of his former self.    

After the fight, there were many different explanations for Fedor’s loss.  Some felt that Fedor was simply in a slump.  Others theorized that Fedor was simply no longer able to hang with top competitors and was approaching the end of his career.  The most interesting explanation came from Fedor’s camp, specifically from his head coach, Vladimir Voronov.  Voronov, had a perfectly logical explanation for why Fedor had lost the fight.      


Yeah, you read that correctly…


Pulled from Russian Sports Website,

“We believe that forbidden psychological technology was used… It seems to us that not everything was right, and that certain technologies were used. Not ones that could be seen by the naked eye but psychological technologies that worked on both fighters at a distance.”

“That is why during the fight Fedor was just not like himself. It seemed very strange behaviour from Fedor. He stepped into the ring and did everything exactly the opposite of what we practiced before the fight. We were all shocked! Fedor had never previously done such a thing.

“Now nearly a week passes, everything settles, and we understand why all this happened.”

Whether or not you are a fan of mixed martial arts, I am sure that we can all agree that the assertion that Fedor lost as a result of physic attacks/manipulations is just…


it is just sad…

Instead of searching for a logical answer for Fedor’s most recent loss, his team has instead decided to pursue para-normal explanations.  Instead of looking at logical reason for his loss (such his striking game, his grappling/ground game, his diet, or even his mental preparation for an upcoming fight), they have focused their attention of para-normal/supernatural explanations.  It should be noted, that as a result of this type of reasoning, one could argue that Fedor is no longer held accountable for this loss.  I mean, how can Fedor be held responsible for his loss, when he was up against an evil, mysterious, unseen, and unknown individual with psychic powers!  I mean come on!  The man is only human.  I would argue that the path taken by Fedor and his team will have 1 of 2 possible outcomes. 

1)      Fedor and his camp will concede that his loss was not Fedor’s fault, but instead the fault of psychic manipulation by the hand of some evil unknown enemy.

2)      Fedor and his camp will invest time, effort and resources to find/develop a means of combating and overcoming these mysterious psychic attacks that plaqued him in his last fight.

It should be noted that the end result of either outcome will be the same.  Fedor will be doomed to repeat his past mistakes. 


What can we learn from all of this?

People often ask me, “what is the harm in belief in the para-normal/supernatural?”  The harm is that instead of identifying real world/logical/rational answers to a problem, and individual is instead reduced to chasing their proverbial tail, looking for an answer that does not exist or will have no impact on the situation before them.  One of life’s greatest frustrations is how little control we have over so much.  Why would you want to increase that lack of control you already have (or is that don’t have) by trying to have an impact on something that is, at best, outside your scope of influence or, at worst, does not even exist?  One the things I despise most about para-normal/supernatural explanations is that they take the accountability away from the individual in question.  In the above case: Fedor’s team is trying to make the case that Fedor was the victim of a psychic attack, consequently they are implying that Fedor cannot be held accountable for his loss. 

So dear reader…

Again, I ask you, what can we learn from all of this? 

Don’t take the easy way out.  When faced with defeat, do not look for para-normal/supernatural explanations.  Instead, take the proverbial “hard look at yourself in the mirror” and find a logical/rational/reality based answer for your defeat.  Take that answer and learn from it.  Take that answer and become a better person than you where the day before.

This has been the skeptical samurai

Working to serve…

Through the process of inquiry…


Skepticism and BJJ/MMA

Posted in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Critical Thinking, martial arts, Mixed Martial Arts, skepticism with tags , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by theskepticalsamurai

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am a martial arts practitioner, specifically I am a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) practitioner.  In line with my affinity for BJJ, I am also a huge fan of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), and consume both live and televised events whenever I can. 

MMA has been around, in variety of different forms, for quite some time, however it made its way into the mainstream consciousness back in November of 1993 with the original Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). 

The brain-child of Rorion Gracie, the UFC was intended to be a promotional platform for Gracie/Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Over the course of two decades, the UFC went from being billed as a bare knuckled no holds barred street fight to a professional sport which is (arguably) home to some of the world’s best athletes.  The UFC has slowly made its way into the mainstream, and is (again, arguably) set to replace boxing as the combat sport to watch.

Which brings me to the topic of this blog post…

Is BJJ obsolete in today’s MMA game?

Let us take a skeptical look at this question shall we.

Back in the day BJJ reigned supreme, but in today’s MMA climate that is no longer the case.  Competitors of yesteryear tended to be skilled only in one area of combat.  More specifically, many of the original MMA competitors specialized in forms of stand up combat.  Consequently, it was possible (and most times quite easy) for a BJJ practitioner to absorb a few strikes, clinch, take the fight to the ground and then finish his opponent.  But, as mentioned above, this is no longer the case.

The game has changed.  Today’s mixed martial artist must be extremely well rounded if he hopes to make it anywhere in today’s fight game.  Consequently, this has made it much more difficult for a pure BJJ practitioner to excel in MMA (without the addition of an effective striking + wrestling base).  This has led some individuals to proclaim that BJJ is obsolete and no longer relevant in MMA today. 

I would argue that nothing could be further from the truth. 

BJJ is an extremely effective martial art (in my opinion it is one of, if not the, most effective martial arts).  BJJ is also extremely effective for use in self defence.  However, BJJ is no longer the proverbial check mate it was in the early days of MMA.  Gone are the days when a BJJ practitioner can enter a MMA match with little or no striking or wrestling background and expect to dominate.  However, BJJ is far from obsolete in modern MMA.  Don’t believe me…just watch any fight where one of the fighters has little or no BJJ training.      

A perfect exam of the above phenomena in modern MMA was the 1st Frank Mir versus Brock Lesnar fight. 

Lesnar, an unstoppable freight train, was a wrestler who began to cross train in striking and BJJ.  Frank Mir was a mixed martial artist with a base in BJJ.  Prior to the fight it was theorized by many the Lesnar’s size, strength and wrestling abilities would simply be too much for Mir, and Mir’s BJJ would not even be a factor.  What transpired when these 2 heavy weights met?  Lesnar took Mir to the ground,

Lesnar bounced Mir’s head off the mat,

And then Mir submitted Lesnar with a kneebar. 

Despite Lesnar’s strength, size and wrestling background, without a sold BJJ base he was doomed once the fight hit the ground.  

Fast forward a few months to Lesnar vs. Mir rematch. 

Prior to the match, Lesnar worked diligently to improve his game (specifically his grappling and ground game).  What happened in the rematch?  Lesnar took Mir to the ground, Lesnar controlled Mirr on the mat, Lesnar then proceeded to bounce Mir’s head off the mat,

And Lesnar finished the fight. 

Because of Lesnar’s hard work to develop his game, he was able to neutralize Mir’s ground game and impose his will.  If Lesnar had not further developed his BJJ/group game, in my opinion, the rematch would have played out much the same as the 1st fight. 

Even more recently this weekend, “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko, previously thought to be unbeatable, lost.  How did he lose you ask…

A triangle choke. 

So what have we learned from all of this?

BJJ is far from obsolete in modern MMA!  As stated above, a fighter can no longer expect to excel with only a base in BJJ; however a fighter cannot expect to become a champion without it!  And even the best can still lose to a well timed + properly executed submission.

This has been the Skeptical Samurai

Working to serve…

Through the process of inquiry…